Thursday, 31 July 2014

PT training without the PT

The home gym. Not v inspiring
Day 110

Reason tells me it's time to pop on trainers and at least attempt a recovery run following the exertions of the past weekend. Body refuses to listen to Reason. This morning it made damn sure every muscle and sinew rebelled against heaving me off the bed and into shorts for a quick sharpener round the park.
So, a bit of home training it was, then. A few minutes of planks, some rollering, weights, bridges, yoga. Very hot work. When the weather's like this it makes sense to pick up thy yogmat and walk to the nearest smooth patch of grass and do the moves in the park. Without Erik as MC, however, one wouldn't really work hard. I'd get distracted photographing dogs for tweets.
Put it down as another rest day.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

50, the new...what, exactly?

51, and proud of it

Shortly after my friend Tamsin turned 50, she went to the local leisure centre to check out an aqua aerobics class. She saw an Over 50s one scheduled, so resolved to join in. It was a little bit gentle, to say the least, over 50s here meaning pensioners. Tamsin said she was the only person in the pool without grey hair and a matronly bosom/tummy combo. She decided she fitted in better at classes where the average age was about 30, because she looked more like the average 30 year old than the average over 50, even though she was most definitely into her sixth decade.
I remembered her experience today, in the pool. I am not a strong swimmer, so meekly stay in the slow lane. Sadly my penchant for early morning workout chimes directly with the average pensioner's early rising habits. Old people tend to swim very slowly and un-vigorously, which means I have to overtake them and risk being grazed by a flailing senior swimmer coming the other way. Old people tend to have very gnarly toenails. They also like to foregather in the shallow end for a laugh and a chat. They're probably laughing at me. The over 50 who doesn't fit anywhere.
I shall have front crawl classes and one day venture into the middle lane.
Still, I did 25 lengths and had a nice chat with a well-spoken lady with a dignified breast stroke.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Matronly, or is it body dismorphia?

The Mens Running Team before the TR24
Day 108

Tuesday morning session with Erik, involving some shuttle runs, figure 8s, planks, ball slams, shoulder presses and underground.
It was an easy three-round circuit, as the old body was still complaining after Sunday. A 50k run is bound to have lasting repercussions.
Finally, a team photo of the Men's Running magazine team to show and tell; my phone for some reasondid not upload photos from the Thunder Run/
I like the adidas purple T-shirt, but am less than impressed with the matronly bosom. Having taken 16-year-old daughter shopping for her French holiday I have sent far too much time today sitting outside changing rooms and watching other perimenopausal women and their daughters at large round the shops.
It is depressing to see the rounded shoulders, beginnings of dowager upper back, the chest and belly merging into one fleshy, shapeless mass. As the hormones broil and bubble, the trunk seems to expand like one of my sourdough loaves during proving. The bosom shelves and the waist disappears. It's a toxic situation. Running of course can staythe expansion a little, but more work is needed, hence the Erik and Team Shape-U efforts.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Blissful sleep

Relax, eat, give thanks
Day 107

Eid in the Park, in Mounfsfield Park. A lovely, low good-natured event to visit while recovering from a marathon weekend of cross country running. Feeling overwhelming good nature toward my manor after a long, long, deep sleep. I will not run for a few days. Crosstraining will do.
Achey legs, achey stomach. No appetite for bara brith. Or popcorn. Or cappuccino. TR24 was fuelled by those things and the after effects linger.  I've had enough sun, too.


The route. Trust me, it's 'technical'
Day 106

....Lap 4 of TR24 took place at 4.30am. Euan, our team captain, kindly lent me his headtorch, so I could see a little more easily. At this time in the morning, at this time of year, the iron grey night sky goes beautiful, pinkly streaky in the east. It's always uplifting to greet the dawn while running, it makes you want to go all wholesome and early-to-bed, early-to-rise. Certainly I ran this dawn lap faster than the night one. My teammates Euan, Dave, Stuart (all 40min 10k merchants) said they loved night running. Martin did his faster at night. Paul and I preferred natural light.
My last lap was achieved in 56mins, when my legs were like jelly, my stomach was killing me (I've been plagued by heat-related cramps and diarrhoea – great in portaloos, in the dark). It started at 10.30am. Once lap five was over, I could finally take pride in the achievement. Hey! I ran 50k this weekend, on no sleep and poor food choices, with an upset stomach. No wonder I feel like shit.
By the time I'd endured the interminable train ride home, plus the walk from Lewisham station with bags, I was dead on my feet. I took a bath, made an omelette and baked bean dinner for daughter and me, then fell asleep over my dinner plate.
Job done.


Jolly Jade from the Women's Team, plus (from left) Stuart and Euan
Day 105

It was too damn hot to set the world on fire with my 10km cross country times at the adidas 24-Hour Thunder Run. As  participants on the Men's Running and Women's Running magazine teams, Lisa and I had motivational and media duties to perform, as well as athletic. We set up camp on our arrival at about 10am. I found my dual role a little stressful. The lack of shade, and not knowing whether to be chummiest with the women or the men, sapped my energy.
My place on the men's team was a challenge. I so did not want to be the slowest. Fortunately I wasn't. A couple of the blokes were slower than me, but even so, I could not get my lap times below 52mins. I did my first run at 1.30pm, when the heat was searing. At 4.30pm it was a little better. Undubtedly the worst lap of this gnarly, hill, tree rooty course, for me, was in the dead of night, when I could not cope with my poor night vision – blame old age and rubbish head torch. A bit spent by the end of the third, slower lap. By 12.30am I'd run three laps of the course, two at 52mins and one in 59 mins. Slow, I know, but is cross country.
The TR24 goes from strength to strength, a huge running festival just outside Tamworth in rural Staffs. It was brilliant to hear that this year's event sold out on 28 minutes. It is incredibly popular. The crowds around the concession tents and big refreshment/results marquee were noticeably more plentiful than I remember from 2011. After my third lap, I repaired to my tiny tent to eat popcorn, drink cappuccino and worry about heatstroke. It rained.

Friday, 25 July 2014

A good team player

Thunder Run 2011: my report on same
Day 104

As it's the 2014 adidas Thunder Run 24 Hours challenge tomorrow, my run today was of a tapering, leg-freshening variety. Out at abut 8am, a quick four miler at slow non-specific pace about (8.50-9m/m), enjoying the shortlived sunshine, which by lunch-time had been replaced by intermittent thunderstorms for the rest of the day.
The Thunder Run, which takes place is rural Staffordshire (Catton Park) necessitates camping and running 10k relays with, in my case, a bunch of extremely fast men. I hope this means they'll let me do five laps or so, even though they'll be waiting an extra ten minutes before I run into the changeover area to exchange wristbands and send a sub-40minute 10K man on his way. My best time for this cross country course, I think, in 2011, was 50mins or so. I did four laps last time, not because I could not do five, but because we had plenty of women wanting to do their bit and a few of them were rather slower than me. A couple unfortunately twisted knees and ankles on the night-time runs, in pitch black woodland where you just can't see the tree roots.
I do hope that this Thunder Run is not accompanied by actual thunder, which rumbles away as I type this. Or, of course the heavy showers curretly pounding away on our leaky roof. I am sure my little tent, from Argos, will prove distinctly un waterproof.
I will be making raw brownies to share. I do hope the men whose team I have been dropped into, are friendly.  I do hope my Women's Running blog about this challenge goes up on the website.
A little nervous about this. I've just applied for a subediting job, interestingly enough, that requires the successful applicant to be a 'team player'. Perhaps I should have mentioned the Thunder Run team spirit.
I will write two days' worth of posts on Sunday, on my return, with lots of pictures.

Thursday, 24 July 2014


Neglected: the track at Southwark Park

Day 103

To Erik at Team Shape_U, accompanied by my mate Jannet, also of Kent AC and one of the Gazelles of Greenwich Park (Friday morning 6am training). Her presence on the circuit training brought an edge of competition to the mix, although I was still feeling pretty spent from Tuesday. One of the elements this warm morning was torture block, which involves running between two step-block points, building a tower at one end by removing the blocks off the other. It is very difficult to describe this process. Suffice to say it's quick and concentrated and today kept making me dizzy. I would have to put my head between my knees after one minute's shuttling. These episodes of dizziness and weakness kept occurring through the day, and at dinner, I felt a nasty pain in my temple and my eyes went blurry. I am hoping this is mere fatigue, nothing more sinister.
After Erik's training we jumped on our bikes and cycled to Southwark Park to Jannet's Buggy Runners class. She's leading this for Greenwich Pilates (more info here)
The Southwark Park sessions are free to people in L&Q housing, but it's still difficult to drum up clients. It made me wonder whether I'd have joined in with such an initiative as a 26-year-old new mum. I certainly needed friends, but went the NCT route. More cake.
It was a beautiful morning, in a  beautiful urban park, but there weren't may people about, let alone runners, and if you look at the state of the once lovely athletics track and neglected clubhouse, it makes you glad for Ladywell. Lewisham rules.  I'm sure Erik would agree.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Runner being

Not my beans, unfortunately
Day 102
Feeling sore on two counts – yesterday's training has caused muscle soreness,  but I'm deeply aggrieved by my lack of success on the runner front – runner beans, that is. The snails have eaten every single leaf from the plants that were climbing proudly up their bamboo wigwams. The beans pictured are casually growing up the fencing outside the British Legion in Brockley. This place has a lovely vegetable garden. Mine is mollusc city. I keep reading that fresh fruit and vegetables are the runners most useful health aid, but so many of my efforts to grow my vitamins fail.
My training today was confined to about 25 lengths of the local pool, which knackered me. My vegetables at dinner were courtesy of Riverford Farms, supplemented by Aldi.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Being special (like vintage wine, mature cheddar etc etc)

That's me on the elastic
Day 101

A monster Tuesday. Erik Lee training in the morning, and track speed session in the evening. All very hot, but enjoyably aching and buzzing in the aftermath.
As usual Erik was a delight. When I arrived I was dismayed to see the Vertimax all set up. I don't like it, and told Erik so. He took it on the chin. I know that the Vertimax is hugely popular for speed and strength training in the US, and that its success rate is legendary. Fact is, I find it a step too far. I'm aware that my religious attendance at Erik's circuit training every Tuesday and Thursday is, for  a 51 year old woman, slightly desperate. I told Erik I was self-conscious all hooked up to the thing and standing on a platform, 'at my age'. He frowned and said that at any age we should try to stay the best we can, perform the best we can, because 'we are all special'. He is completely right of course, and of course he makes a living from mature women who want to run faster and resist the onset of spherical middleage.
 I felt better  after three cicuits of weighted sprinting (pictured), step ups, cross bow, soldier crawl (?), 3D and boxing.
This evening's session: 1xmile warm up, strides, then 1m speed (6.40 m/m), followed by 1200m, then 800m, then 6x200m. Then 1m cool down. And I felt sooo good.

Monday, 21 July 2014

All the gear, no idea?

Look what arrived for me today
Day 100

In 2011 I was team captain for Women's Running at the adidas 24 hour Thunder Run. It involves running as many laps of a 10K course as possible over a 24 hour period. This year, this weekend, in fact, I'm doing it again. I'll be token woman on the Men's Running Magazine team.
Typically, not one member of the Men's team has been in touch, but I've been busy rounding up the girls and drumming up some team spirit.
One of the perks of doing this kind of gig for the mag is the massive amount of kit you're sent. Many of the items that arrived today are duplicate of the apparel received in May, when  I ran the Conti Lightning Run for Women's Running. I now have so much stuff I could wear a different outfit for every run. Fact is, though, I don't like wearing all this colourful, technical kit, all tight and attention seeking. I prefer to don the mantle of middle aged woman's old T shirt and shorts will do, baggy enough to mask that other mark of the middle aged woman – the perimenopausal fat around the middle – technical running gear does not flatter it.

Sunday, 20 July 2014


The Gallop

Day 99

An early morning long slow run in the Somerset countryside. It was a good opportunity to run when exceedingly tired, breathing good west country air and trying out some hilly trails. After only a few hours sleep the past two nights I am not exactly running strong, but I was out there, on my feet, for a couple of hours, and covered about 13 miles, with stops for photography and asking random farmers where to go. I managed a few hills, a muddy ex railway track and tried to keep to marathon pace. Unlike the racehorses in Paul Nichols's yard, just round the corner from my mother-in-law's house in Ditcheat, a fresh new July morning does not see me champing at the bit to run up hills as fast as possible, but the main thing is that I put on my shorts, donned trail shoes and (more or less) kept to my marathon training schedule. In the next four weeks I  need to build up the mileage to 22-23 on a Sunday. At least I can rely on next weekend to be a serious running one. The TR 24 approacheth.
Hello countryside

Cough and hold the contraction

Day 98
To a wedding in Devon. Bereft because no Parkrun. Brief post because I'm writing this on my phone, not ideal. I wore a bottle green Cos dress I rather like myself in. Unlike other 50 something women....aunts of bride, mothers, others, I resisted florals, fascinators and flab-hunging sleevelessness. Modesty, understatement, body coverage and, most of all, holding in one's stomach. Hard work. Erik says to remind yourself to work you core you should cough and hold the contraction. A useful mantra. In the aftermath of much fruit cake and fizzy wine, the contractions dwindled considerably.

Friday, 18 July 2014

A steamy session

The topless Matty in the background might raise a few eyebrows, given the title
Day 97

Last night July storms caused a commotion and resulted in myriad forked lightning and Shard combos on the blogosphere. I was too lazy to get off my very hot bed to take a shot out of the window, but not too lazy to rise at 5am for or very early Greenwich Hills session, We Are Gazelles style.
I don't run so well in hot weather. This morning was incredibly steamy, with the last vestiges of rain from the overnight storms still in the air, like a sauna.
We ran multiple uphills, first the slats hill, starting at the top, and running between the cobbled sections, then steps, up and down between the platforms. We ran hard, with downhill recoveries. By 7am we were drenched in sweat and puce in the face, as is evident from the photo. The art bench I am sitting on commemorates great works of literature to do with London. They are all around Greenwich. This one is HG Wells, The Time Machine, I do like this little composition, it's so colourful, especially my pink face and lime green T.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Toilet training

Charcoal on the bin and Rufus on the fence, outside the outside privvy
Day 96

One of the main drawbacks of working in a magazine office, rather than freelancing from your own home, is that your training takes a hit. The aerobic stuff can still be achieved, wth early  morning runs like the five miler I managed this morning, up to Blackheath and home via Lewisham (very slow, all the miles over 9m/m and I struggled with form and pelvic floor issues. The heat does not help with the issue, so a soggy gusset once more). Cycling to and from Soho keeps the blood pumping too. However, once I'm sitting at my subeditor post, I'm there for a stretch, so cannot keep getting up to stretch, as I do at home. Here in my study at home I sit on a Swiss ball, I can go to the yoga mat and plank it for a bit, I can pick up some free weights or practise some core training exercises. Hell, if the fancy takes me and it's 27degrees C, as it was today, I can get me to the lido.
At work, I repair to the toilet to do some stretches, my favourite at the moment is a slide up and dwn the wall into a squat, and doing various upper back moves. At Cedar, where there is a massive disabled loo on my floor (and there used ot be a yoga mat) I did whole routines when the workflow stuttered. My toilet gym at the moment though, at Hearst, is very small, and I keep whacking my elbow on the door handle. Also, I don't really want other women looking at me funny when I emerge from the cubicle red faced and slightly out of breath.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Speedo fit

Water palaver
Day 94

When the day dawns bright blue and  I am wide awake before 6am, feeling hot and sticky, a recovery swim seems so much more attractive than a recovery run. There isn't time enough before work to travel to the local lido, so I cycled 10mins to my nearest pool and managed about 20 lengths (it's only 35m) before breakfast. Even though I can only really do a very shabby breast stroke, I feel good . Just imagine how I would feel if I mastered a smooth front crawl, swallowed my fears and learned to love the water. It is on my summer agenda to invest in some lessons. Reading an advertorial by Speedo about the benefits of swimming for the runner, I'm even more sold on the idea. I have my smart new costume, after all. I don't like how fat I look in it. More reason to burn up the calories in cool blue water.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Feeding the flab

The cake tin, where the runner tend to gravitate, feeling she's 'earned it'

Day 94

After the cycle to and from Soho, with a day at desk in between, a hot, fast session on the running track with the club. I missed the warm up, work being a little time consuming, but made the session 5x600m and 300m, with 200m an 100m recoveries between each set. I ran pretty well. I was hungry, having eaten mostly Rich Tea biscuits in the afternoon, and salad and a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. I am mad for toast and cereal, could eat it for every meal, but know that the slim, taut, muscled backs of the fast women in my group are achieved by protein and judicious gym work. One woman, Laura, whose beautifully muscled, slim back and six pack I admire whenever I run behind/with her (often) denies going to the gym, though. She said she is used to lifting a lot of oxygen tanks, as a diver. Is it possible to fend off back flab? I have depressing memories of watching my mother dress in the morning when I was a little girl. She wore something she called a 'roll on' (a sort of corset) over the top of which her upper back fat drooped like Muttley's ears. I know she too hated the rotund torso our family seem to have been blessed with. Is the only way I can resist the roly poly roll-on route cutting out my favourite foods and replacing the calories with protein ones? I wonder if I have the willpower to do it. Judging by my speed eating performance following this evenng's speed session, I fear not.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Office world

Swans in Burgess Park
Day 93

The best thing about being back in an office environment is that I am cycling to Soho and back every day for a week. The worse thing is that I am expected to sit on my arse for seven hours a day.
It's fab working in Soho, though. There are so many places to buy an interesting lunch (although I should be packing up healthy salads to bring in, rather than blowing fivers on shop-bought ones) and I can pretend I work all the time on a weekly magazine, instead of being a jobbing sub for a week while someone's away. My line manager, the deputy chief sub, is safe in his salaried job so can swim at Marshall Street baths of a lunch time. I'm so busy putting on a conscientious show that I scuttle out to eat in the nearest square, then scuttle back within 45 minutes.
In term of fitness, there's the 15 miles cycled, as well as the stairs taken two at a time to my desk. Not as good for my arse as floor 7, where I worked for so many months on the Strand, but better than a poke in the butt cheek with a sharp stick.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Bone grinding fatigue

Lowering skies over the Greenwich Peninsula

Day 92

Footsore and fuzzy headed after yesterday's high jinks and sugar excesses on Wandsworth Common, I set out to meet running buddy Sarah for a 10-12 miler with a Camelbak given the extreme humidity. By mile 7 I was flagging, and mindful that I'd raced a great 15 miler cross country this time last week. Funny how fatigue goes. I slept well these past two nights, but not long enough, making rising and running a huge challenge. I wonder if this drained feeling is down to a weird episode of menstrual hyperactivity. I am currently enduring a period every fortnight, which is odd. I suppose it is one of the many joys of perimenopause.
I should have done another five miles after Sarah and I parted company at Hillyfields, but I was drenched in sweat and had run out of water. I spent the rest of the day sitting at this laptop, cooking and eating. My hip flexors ache like crazy and I am worried about the week ahead in an unknown office. Again, not training seriously enough and my stomach HUGE.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Cake, a lot of it

A bit of a blow out at this gathering
Day 91

Everyone falls off the training seriously wagon sometimes. Today, faced with a dozen cakes made by my sister's fair hand, adorning a picnic table at this party on Wandsworth Common, my greed got the better of me. There were lemon drizzles, raspberry streusels, chocolate fudges, Dorset apples, Dundee fruits, ginger loafs and more. Big cakes all, each with one big sparkly letter to spell out the legend Mary & Robin. My niece and her man celebrating nuptials once more, as well as the first birthday of their delightful son Rufus.
Champagne, beer, cider flowed, and disappeared down my maw, along with a slice of every type of cake, and much else besides.
Earlier, at Parkrun, my running late meant I ran up the hill and just miss the start, necessitating a mad dash to catch up, In essence my parkrun was four miles long, so to do it in the time pasted below was quite an achievement. I felt very sick after the effort, so could not manage the cupcake I was given at the finish. Clearly I made up for lost eating time a few hours later.
I think, in the light of this, that a PB at Hillyfields is overdue. I must try to get down under 23mins on this hilly course soon.

Hillyfields parkrun results for event #99. Your time was 00:23:35.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Jelly legs

Drownded rats sprint up hills shock
Day 90

It was hill training in Greenwich Park again. A 6.15am start, with my lift arriving at 5.55am. My fellow hill sprinters roll out of bed and go, but I have to have a hot drink and a little cereal-based snack inside me. It tends to slosh around as I run, but I need that sweet comforter before I yawn my way to the front door. After the hour's running my appetite is huge for the subsequent eight hours, and fatigue plays tricks with my mind as the afternoon wears on. I am not sure if the beauty sleep deprivation is wise at my age. Look at the selfie and you will agree.
We did many variations of the theme of running up the steepest hill of beautful (very soggy today) Greenwich Park. I lose power but try to make my arms urge me up. I try to keep head up, shoulders back. I tire, I tire and wheeze and pant by the summit, Then there are many more repeats, followed by cricket pitch sprints on squelchy, slippery grass. It rains. My arse aches and a weary numbness fills my hip flexors. And there will be Parkrun.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Hill defeats

Peppa can leap like a gazelle through the crops
Day 89

Cycling mostly, from here to East Croydon, then atrain, then Horsham to West Grinstead, then the same back to here. I suppose about  22 miles all told. There were two steep hills in Sussex. Last year, when I was staying there for a couple of weeks and cycling that route every morning and evening I pedalled up the with ease. Today, the gradient defeated me. I'm disinclined to honk up hills because I don't trust this bike's gear, but the fact is I just don't have the power in my backside. Watching Peppa the pointer leap with consummate ease about three feet in the air with every bound she takes through the wheatfields in pursuit of rabbits, I feel envious of those muscled haunches. I feel too old and tired to run like a happy dog, let alone get my bike up and over those hills.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

It's me hormones, doc

We're both getting old, irascible and unreliable
Day 88

This morning I swam in the indoor pool before breakfast, and felt good immediately afterwards. In the main, though, I am less than chipper. Domestic stress and hormonal stress seem to be coming to the boil and rendering me incapable. Concentrating long enough to write a blog, either this blog or one for Women's Running Magazine, much less sort out my accounts and my desperate finances is beyond me. I am loath to cite the menopause as the cause of the stress, but the physical evidence is with me. I seem to be menstruating every fortnight. This is having a direct effect on my energy stores and appetite. A friend at Hillyfields Parkrun has recommended meditation to dissipate the panic and brain fog, but I am inclined to try to blitz it with running, cycling, swimming. I refuse to be slowed down by my middle aged womb. I shall ignore this, although it does put a dampener on my sex life.
Repeat after me, all you midlife runners. The menopause is a construct, there are no symptoms.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Oh why can't a woman be more like a power ranger?

Pow! Look at my Mighty Morphin double chin. That's me on the Vertimax
Day 87

Erik Lee of Team Shape-U turned to me this morning and said
'Did you ever watch Power Rangers?'
Personal Trainers say the oddest things.
His point, he explained as my brow furrowed and I remembered one of my sons having a brief infatuation with a white-clad muscular Might Morphin figurine back in the 1990s, was that when these rangers braced up to lift meteors over their heads, or whatever they did, they engaged all of their muscles, not just a superficial flexion. And that, he said, is what I should be doing when I work against the resistance of these harnesses on the Vertimax. I have to say I feel very exposed up here. Dog walkers look at me funny. WTF am I doing, a 51 year old woman trying to improve her knee lift and 'explosive movements' on this instrument of torture?
On the other hand, who is to say that working on my middle aged muscle groups won't have a beneficial effect on my times, and if I am the first in my age group in the races I enter, that is good enough for me. In the world of V50, we are all superheroes.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Head fog and fatigue

Beautiful, bracing, but no replacement for quality sleep
Day 86

Early to rise, and with my running mate, Jannet, who did Bewl with me yesterday, to another large body of water, the beautiful Brockwell Lido, Herne Hill. At 6.30am, the only swimmers were serious front crawlers in hats and goggles. As a rubbish swimmer, I refused Jannet's offer of hat and goggles. I trembled up and down the 50m using a sedate breastroke, but felt weak and chilly. This lido is not heated, unlike my faves, London Fields and Charlton. I managed about 7 lengths before my numb feet and extreme tiredness took over. In that time, Jannet had racked up 20, using a beautiful, powerful front crawl.
Since the morning, the head fog has taken over, my eyes, legs, arms and neck are tired. My stomach hurts. I feel like a menopausal person. I cannot concentrate, and headaches over finances and middle son's year abroad have proved like impossible mountains to overcome.
The contrast between this clear, blue wholesome picture and the greyfaced, glumfaced, photographer sat at her laptop on this showery Monday could not be more marked.
I this the time to say, 'pull yourself together, only you can dig a way out of this.'
A walk, to clear my head.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Throw away the rule book

Finishers are always happiest when there's cake and beer
Day 85

The Bewl 15

Bewl Water is an extraordinarily gorgeous beauty spot in rural Kent, not far from Lamberhurst. A three-pronged set of lakes, used for sailing, fishing and kayaking is surrounded by hilly wooded trails and country lanes. The views are delightful, especially along the high ridges overlooking the water. The race I competed in today was a 15 miler, around this Kentsh treasure, over muddy undulating trails. I'd done it once before, back in 2011. I looked up my result online, and I'm pretty sure it said 2:28, which seems awfully slow. Today, however, I completed it in 2.06. I was delighted.
The hilarious thing was, I'd barely prepared. I'd been out two nights in a row, drinking on both nights, and I was sleep deprived. Interestingly, as before the Berlin Marathon, I'd eaten freely and sweetly the day before. Plenty of bread, potatoes, cereal, cheese and cake, with wine, beer and Champagne. I'd had no alcohol in Berlin of course, but the calorie intake was similar. Then, this morning, I breakfasted on porridge and tea, then before the race drank beet/cherry juice, Organo coffee and popped some ibruprofen. All the way round the course I snacked on jelly babies and made full use of the water stations. The result was long, strong running. The only slow mile was 14-15, the last hill I could scarcely jog up. No matter, I was 4th V50 and I was pleased.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

How to be speedy

Day 83 - I've started numbering them as of today, because today I feel the most depressed and unmotivated I've ever felt. It is all to do with lack of sleep, I am sure, as well as the sludge that typically furs up your circuitry when you've been married and somewhat domesticated for 25 years. How to get fired up again?

Today I marshalled Hillyfields Parkrun again, as tomorrow I am running the 15 mile Bewl Water trail race. Last time I did that race it was hot, dusty and exhaustng, but today our spell of hot weather has come to an end, and we have rain/showers with some humidity.

I was the official timer, pressing the stop when every one of the 130 runners came through the finishing funnel. This man finished in about 18min 25secs, but the course record is an eye-watering 15mins 37secs, set by a chap new to the area, Sean.

When you're volunteering at Parkrun it gives you the chance to analyse the style of the speedies as they lope past. One thing they all have in common is their high feet. I know it's best to try to get the heel up towards the arse, and to keep the cadence quick. Of course, as you get tired and blown, your style goes out of the window.

I vow this Saturday to sleep at my tiredest point this evening, to stay away from screens an hour before I attempt sleep and to lose this headache. Once my mood and wellbeing picks up, I can address my form, speed up and calm down.  

Friday, 4 July 2014

Oh why can't a woman be more like a man?

We Are Gazelles, our hills training group

To Greenwich Park, to meet up with my hill training buddies (working title We Are Gazelles). As the blokes thunder up the hills ahead of me and all the other women in the group, the song of the title, sung by 'Enry 'Iggins in My Fair Lady pops into my head. Of course its sentiments - playfully intended - offend every feminist fibre of my weak and feeble female body but I do wonder why fit blokes are so very much faster than fit women. We girls have a lower aerobic capacity because of our lower blood haemoglobin, apparently. However, we can do endurance. We can be wiser pacers. Sometimes, not setting off so fast gives us the edge. Still, I couldn't help but feel offended when the fastest bloke suggested we girls be the fox, starting off 50m before the male hounds in sprint repeats round a woodland trail.  At least they didn't catch up with me. It was still great fun though. The best fun you can have with a bunch of middleaged men at 6.15am on a sunny July morning. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Trolley dash

A weighty issue

That weight on wheels has to be trundled up and down between two points about 50m apart. You run as fast as you can pulling it behind you. Erik says that training for speed means keeping up the speed, so if you feel your sprint slowing, you must breathe for a few seconds before resuming, as fast as you were. The temptation, for the long distance runner, is to try to keep going to fit in as many reps as you can within the minute. As well as that, this morning, we had to do planking, side to side, rope swirling, slides (quick crunches). It was a good session, and I was impressed by my perkiness, given last night's drinking and high jinks.
This afternoon: 14 lengths of the lido and a bike ride, plus some sunbathing and an ice cream, a present to myself for meeting a deadline before lunch.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Proof positive

Thank you Berlin Marathon
Happy message in my inbox today from Virgin London Marathon. My place in the precious blue start/Good For Age at the 2015 race is confirmed. The training seriously will be in earnest for April. Hell, I've started already, and am just about to sign upto another half marathon to show my earnest.
I am so excited. I will do it right this time. The email is pasted below.
Today I woke before 5am, so eyes are pissholes in snow (and wanted to look ok for a little soirée). I took a recovery run in my new Zoggs swimsuit, with the demure high neck and zip at the back - looks quite athletic. It does, I don't. Then a few languid lengths in the pool. Feel a bit depleted. And also bloated, and now, excited.

Dear Veronica Ronnie Haydon,

I can confirm your application for a 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon Good for Age entry has been verified.

In order to confirm and complete your Good for Age entry, please make a note of your username and password and follow the link to the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon Good for Age entry system where you can complete the online entry form and pay for your entry.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Getting my arse into gear

it was all about the glutes today

Having a weedy middle-aged arse is not going to help in my bid to become faster. The Assembly League results from last Thursday prove that. A shaming 22.49 on the flat, and the Kent woman in front of me, whom I could not catch, was more generously built around the haunches.
So thanks, Erik Lee, of Team Shape U, for the very precise glute firing speed exercise you put me through today. I hope I shall feel the burn tomorrow.
The circuit was five rounds of ball slams (with squats) in and out low hurdles (with running backwards, legs bent), scorpion (getting better at that), pedalling, oblique twists and glute firings with weight. I felt quite achey while doing them.
This evening, at Kent AC, a few of us were singled out for a photographer; guess he chose me as token oldie. We did 6x800m (Yasso 800s). I was the slwest ofthe fast group, but ok.
Lack of sleep is making me a bit dim and forever hungry, so I have taken ibruprofen and natrasleep herbal pills. I hope they cosh me into oblivion.